Top Tips for Europe – Some Insider Knowledge!
Try to get out of the cities and explore the villages – in Switzerland you can base yourself in a chalet or cosy hotel in Grindelwald for a few days and go walking through the alpine meadows, pat the cows, taste the cheese at the farm gates and take endless photos of the north face of the Eiger.
Switzerland has an amazing network of cycleways. Did you know you can rent bikes at many of the train stations and cycle your way around the valleys? For example from Lucerne, you can boat and train to Engelberg, hire a bike and bike back (downhill) to Lucerne. Or bike around lake Geneva, stopping at the Chillon castle and have lunch at a lakeside restaurant. The options are endless and the train stations have lots of packages, bike and hike maps and ideas. They all speak English and are super organised so you can be a bit adventurous in your choices!
If you’re thinking of hiking in Italy in July and August, try and stay in the north, such as the Dolomite areas of Val Gardena or Castleruth. It’s a bit higher and cooler there. Stay away from the super hot and crowded Cinque Terre and Amalfi Coast in those months.
Rather than staying in touristy Florence or Pisa, base yourself inside the ancient walled city of Lucca. There are truffle restaurants, fabulous cooking classes and it’s the birthplace of Pucini, so you can even go to a concert. The wineries are to die for and you’re only 30mins by bus or train to Pisa, or an hour to Florence, if you want to brave the crowds. Make sure your hotel has aircon in the hotter months though!
If you are passing through Bolzano in northern Italy or staying in the Dolomites, head to see Oetzi the Iceman at his very own museum. He’s 5000 yrs old and was found on a mountain pass just on the Italian side of the border with Austria. It’s fascinating and his frozen mummified body is there along with all his clothes, hunting weapons etc. … you won’t believe it… 5000 year old tights!!!
Austria is known for dumplings, lederhosen and beer! But there is also fabulous hiking in the valleys, especially above Innsbruck in the Stubai valley, so it’s a great stop if you’re on your way from Italy to Germany and the Blackforest. Best of all its cheap and very cheerfull! Only 20km from Innsbruck you can take a cable car to the top of a mountain, see stunning glaciers, go paragliding and stay in a hotel with a flower filled balcony.
If you’re in Vienna, head out to Grinzing and the Heurigers which are wineries but with a real local feel. They can get very busy on weekends and hot summer evenings, so it pays to book if there are a few of you and you don’t want a long wait!
Greece, hmmm… where do I start! Get off the main tourist islands to explore like a local and go walking. Visit Naxos or Paros for walks on ancient Byzantine paths, local tavernas and crystal clear waters. They are still busy but getting off the beaten track gives a totally new perspective of these wonderful islands. Do a walking & food tour in Athens. It’s a great introduction to real Greek food that the locals eat!
You can experience many of these destinations through a variety of tours we have on offer. From our Greek Islands Walking & Food tour, to our Walking in the European Alps trip (which travels from Switzerland, through Italy and into Austria).